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Part of Aldwych pictured in 2011 Walking Past The Waldorf - - 2435163.jpg
Part of Aldwych pictured in 2011

Aldwych (pronounced /ˈɔːldwɪ/ AWLD-witch) is a street and the name of the area immediately surrounding it, in the City of Westminster, part of Greater London, and is part of the West End Theatreland. The 450 metres (1,480 ft) street starts 600 metres (2,000 ft) east-northeast of Charing Cross, the conventional map centre-point of the capital city.


The name means "old port", and in Anglo-Saxon times it was the port of the City of London.

The semi-circular design of the street of Aldwych arises from its function, making navigable the gradient of the fall in levels between the roads connected by the street: the south end of Kingsway, and the Strand. [1] It forms part of the A4 road from London to Avonmouth, Bristol.

The Aldwych area forms part of the Northbank business improvement district. [2] It is known for hotels, restaurants, two theatres, the High Commissions of India and Australia. It gives its name to the now-closed Underground station on the related section of the Strand (the return of the crescent), which poses as an active tube station in films and television shows. Marking the east end of the street and in the middle of the crescent return are Grade I heritage listed churches designed by Wren and Gibbs. Immediately north-east of St Clement Danes (St Clements), on Strand, is the Royal Courts of Justice, a complex of courtrooms used by the senior courts of England and Wales, including the High Court and the Court of Appeal of England and Wales.


Aldwych, the street, is a crescent, connected to the Strand at both ends, and forms part of the A4 route. Streets adjoining are Drury Lane, Kingsway, India Place and Melbourne Place. Notable buildings along its length include:


High Commissions:

Hotels and Restaurants:


Former buildings include:

Facing one end of the street on the Strand is closed-in-1994 Aldwych station, originally named Strand station. It has been used when closed for scenes of films and television dramas.


In the seventh century, the area was an Anglo-Saxon major settlement Lundenwic (the last syllable pronounced as today) ('London port') centred one mile to the west of Londinium (known to the Saxons as Lundenburh 'London fort'). "Lundenwic" later became the old wich (old port, that is Aldwych). It is not known if it had a church, and the town either took advantage of the scouring action of the Fleet or used the mouth itself as a harbour for trading ships and fishing boats. After Alfred the Great re-built the London fortifications in the late 9th century, Londinium became known as Lundenburh or simply Lunden, and Lundenwic so became ealdwic or aldwich. (The word "old" evolved from ald, the Old English being eald and the German cognate being alt.) [3] The name was recorded as Aldewich in 1211.

St Clement Danes is one of the four ancient Westminster parishes and was first recorded in the 1190s; it once covered the whole of Aldwych and all adjoining areas. [4] Its church, which features in the first line of the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons , was rebuilt by Wren. The civil parish was abolished in 1922. It is open to - and it is known by residents and businesses to - use the term St Clement Danes interchangeably with Aldwych, which also covered in its final, smallest form the Adelphi and much of the Strand.

1888 plan showing Aldwych before the construction of the modern street. The eastern part of the new street cut a swathe through just to the north of Wych Street. DISTRICT(1888) p111 - Temple (map).jpg
1888 plan showing Aldwych before the construction of the modern street. The eastern part of the new street cut a swathe through just to the north of Wych Street.

The urban centre of Lundenwic was unearthed in the 1980s after extensive excavations, and were reinterpreted as being urban in character. These conclusions were reached independently by two archaeologists (Vince and Biddle). Recent excavations in Covent Garden adjoining have uncovered an extensive Anglo-Saxon settlement, covering about 150 acres (0.61 km2), stretching from the present-day National Gallery site in the west, to Aldwych in the east. As the presumed locus of the city, Lundenburh, was moved back within the old Roman walls, the older settlement of Lundenwic gained the name of ealdwic, 'old port', "eald" and the softer form of "wic" transposed to "ald" and "wich" in Middle English orthography. [5]

The street was created in the early 20th century in a project that saw a new street layout destroying Wych Street which was full of overhangs and projections, and the construction of Australia House (built 1913–18) and Bush House (completed 1925). A statue of the 19th-century prime minister William Ewart Gladstone was installed in 1905 near St Clement Danes church, at the eastern end of Aldwych.

In 1906, Aldwych tramway station was opened underneath Kingsway; it closed in 1952. In 1907, Aldwych station was opened on the Strand opposite Aldwych; it closed in 1994.

On 18 February 1996, a bomb was detonated prematurely on a number 171 bus travelling along Aldwych, killing its carrier, Provisional Irish Republican Army member Edward O'Brien and injuring several passengers.

In 2021, the Strand was pedestrianised between Melbourne Place and Lancaster Place, and Aldwych was converted into a two-way street.

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The City of Westminster is a city and borough in London. It is the site of the United Kingdom's Houses of Parliament and much of the British government. It occupies a large area of central London, including most of the West End. Many London landmarks are within the borough, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Whitehall, Westminster Cathedral, 10 Downing Street, and Trafalgar Square.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingsway tramway subway</span> Former tram tunnel in London

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Drury Lane</span> Street in central London, England

Drury Lane is a street on the eastern boundary of the Covent Garden area of London, running between Aldwych and High Holborn. The northern part is in the borough of Camden and the southern part in the City of Westminster. Drury Lane is part of London's West End Theatreland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Londinium</span> Settlement established on the current site of the City of London around AD 43–50

Londinium, also known as Roman London, was the capital of Roman Britain during most of the period of Roman rule. Most twenty-first century historians think that it was originally a settlement established shortly after the Claudian invasion of Britain, on the current site of the City of London around AD 47–50, but some defend an older view that the city originated in a defensive enclosure constructed during the Claudian invasion in AD 43. Its earliest securely-dated structure is a timber drain of 47 CE. It sat at a key ford at the River Thames which turned the city into a road nexus and major port, serving as a major commercial centre in Roman Britain until its abandonment during the 5th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aldwych tube station</span> London Underground station, 1907–1994

Aldwych is a closed station on the London Underground, located in the City of Westminster in Central London. It was opened in 1907 with the name Strand, after the street on which it is located. It was the terminus of the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes. The station building is close to the Strand's junction with Surrey Street, near Aldwych. During its lifetime, the branch was the subject of a number of unrealised extension proposals that would have seen the tunnels through the station extended southwards, usually to Waterloo.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">A4200 road</span> Major thoroughfare in central London

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wych Street</span>

Wych Street was in London where King, Melbourne and Australia Houses now stand on Aldwych. It ran west from the church of St Clement Danes on the Strand to meet the southern end of Drury Lane. It was demolished by the London County Council in around 1901, as part of redevelopment bisected by new street Aldwych, the east of which mimics its course, in a curved way so taking up land buildings stood on, and these works created Kingsway.

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Clare Market is a historic area in central London located within the parish of St Clement Danes to the west of Lincoln's Inn Fields, between the Strand and Drury Lane, with Vere Street adjoining its western side. It was named after the food market which had been established in Clement's Inn Fields, by John Holles, 2nd Earl of Clare. Much of the area and its landmarks were immortalised by Charles Dickens in The Old Curiosity Shop, The Pickwick Papers, Barnaby Rudge and Sketches by Boz.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Clement Danes (parish)</span>

St Clement Danes was a civil parish in the metropolitan area of London, England; an ecclesiastical version remains. The parish was split between the Liberty of Westminster and the Liberty of the Duchy of Lancaster. The area is colloquially split between Aldwych and Adelphi areas associated with the larger Strand area in the extreme east of the City of Westminster. It includes hotels, restaurants, the Indian and Australian High Commissions and the London School of Economics. To its west is Charing Cross station which faces Trafalgar Square.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sardinia Street, Lincoln's Inn</span>

Sardinia Street, formerly Duke Street was the northern continuation of Kemble Street. It ended, like its successor, on the west side (carriageway) of Lincoln's Inn Fields in the north, but further north. It was joined on its western side by King's Head Yard (demolished) and Wild Street, and opposite by Vere Street (demolished). On the eastern side at the northern end was a Roman Catholic chapel and chapel yard.

This is a list of the etymology of street names in the London district of Covent Garden. Covent Garden has no formally defined boundaries – those utilised here are: Shaftesbury Avenue to the north-west, New Oxford Street and High Holborn to the north, Kingsway and the western half of the Aldwych semi-circle to the east, Strand to the south and Charing Cross Road to the west.

This is a list of the etymology of street names in the London district of Holborn. Holborn has no formally defined boundaries - those utilised here are: Theobald’s Road to the north, Gray's Inn Road and the City of London boundary to the east, Victoria Embankment/the Thames to the south, and Lancaster Place, the north-west curve of the Aldwych semi-circle, Kingsway/Southampton Row to the west.


  1. Macartney, Mervyn Edmund (June–December 1899). "From Holborn to the Strand: An Ideal Street". The Architectural Review. 6: 239–244.
  2. "The Northbank District". Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  3. A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, Walter William Skeat, Clarendon Press (1910), at p. 357
  4. "Middlesex and London". Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  5. Hobley B, Lundenwic and Lundenburh: two cities rediscovered, AHDS Archaeology, University of York (PDF)